Museum Apologizes for Slur

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has apologized for a slurring reference to Jews in its Summer, 1986 Bulletin after a protest was lodged by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Museum president William Luers said the Met found the offensive passage “regrettable and distressing,” in a letter to Carol Lister, director of the ADL’s New York regional office.

Lister wrote to the Museum’s director, Philippe de Montebello, protesting a reference to Jews that appeared in the Bulletin titled “A Medieval Bestiary,” devoted to the allegorical use of animals in medieval art from the Met’s collection.

The author, art historian J.L. Schrader, described the owl as “a symbol of darkness and hence of the Jews who rejected Christ, the light of the world, as their king; for they said, ‘We have no King but Caesar’.”

Lister stated in her letter that “to perpetuate this ugly medieval notion is unworthy of our country’s most distinguished museum and a gratuitous insult to many of its devoted patrons.” Luers promised in reply “to redouble our efforts to guarantee that the like does not happen again.”

He wrote that the museum was “genuinely grateful” to the ADL “for pointing out our mistake.”

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